Posts Tagged: The Guardian

Women Read Women

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Women read books written by women and men read books written by men, reports the Guardian. A study of Goodreads data suggests that people prefer reading books written by those who share their gender. The study also reveals that men and women read roughly the same number of books; however, women read twice as many books published in 2014 as men did.

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Language Wars

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Most writers aspire to clarity in language. Politicians, of course, are the exception. Legislators are turning to language to obscure their intentions, claims Steven Poole over at the Guardian. Poole cites a trade deal between the EU and the United States that confounds the issue of tariffs known as TTIP:

One might be forgiven for concluding from this, and in general from the obfuscatory and often downright misleading bureaucratese in which TTIP’s aims are framed, that they are trying to hide something.

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The Best Standup Comedian You’ve Never Seen Perform

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For the Guardian, Joshua Ferris pays tribute to his hero, Jim Shepard, who served as a visiting professor at the University of California, Irvine when he was an MFA student. “A lot of critics dislike the professionalisation of creative writing,” Ferris writes, but “they have never had Shepard in a workshop”:

[Shepard’s] insight is humbling, deeply grained, outrageously perceptive and full of a signature humour.

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Amazon’s Book of the Year

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Celeste Ng’s novel, Everything I Never Told You, was recently named by Amazon as the book of the year. Amazon’s editorial team reviewed 480 fiction and non-fiction books before coming up with a top 10. Ng sat down with Hermione Hoby for the Guardian to talk about about writing, race, and Amazon:

“It’s hard to feel like the things Amazon was doing were not going to harm the industry,” she says.

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Writing After 40

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If the lists are to be believed, the only good new writers are under 40. It’s not just Buzzfeed, but also the New Yorker, Granta, and others who publish lists of great new—and young—authors. Joanna Walsh takes issue with this trend over at the Guardian:

Sometimes the literary bitcoin is just life: some people have more to say aged 50, than at 30; for others it’s the opposite.

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Get A Little Less Precious

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Mallory Ortberg, founder of The Toast and general source of hilarity and wit, talks to the Guardian about her just-released book Texts from Jane Eyre, creating a humorous website for intelligent women, and why you shouldn’t strive for perfection when writing online:

It helps to get a little less precious about your writing and realise “Hey, I can write something and it’s not great, and I’ll live.” People will move on, and the internet is a constant wave of content.

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Women Are More Interesting

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Nick Hornby often ends up fielding questions from fans eager to understand why he frequently writes about women, especially since he’s a man. Many of his novels feature female protagonists, and his second career as a screenwriter includes what he calls the “young girl trilogy.” It’s not a coincidence that women are the center of these stories, he explains to the Guardian:

“It seems to me quite often that the journeys of young women are more moving, because they are hemmed in more, and dramatically it’s more interesting to think about and write about people whose lives are circumscribed in some way.”

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A Democratic Way of Living

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Viv Groskop interviews author Azar Nafisi about her book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, which chronicles her experience teaching controversial works in Tehran. Nafisi also discusses her motivation to write her most recent book, The Republic of Imagination, which argues that literature promotes a “democratic way of living”:

Fiction confronts a great many things that we cannot fully confront in real life.

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Smiley Sheds Light on Some Luck

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For the Guardian, Robert McCrum sits down with Jane Smiley to discuss the award-winning author’s new book, Some Luck, and the creative process.

“I grew up in a family of storytellers,” she explains, describing Some Luck. “I cannot remember a thing that anyone talked about—not politics, not movies, not history, not religion—that wasn’t filtered through a tale of Grandfather, Uncle Charlie or what Mom was doing that day.”

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Antique Doodles

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The owner of another fabulous volume, the Book of St Albans – a gentleman’s guide to heraldry, hawking and hunting that, in the 1480s, was the first colour printed book in English – did worse and with much less shame: he added a little drawing to the bottom of a page showing an enthusiastic couple having sex.

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Mountains, Lowlands, and Archipelagos

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Horace Engdahl thinks that creative writing programs and the walled-off communities academic programs create are hurting western literature. Since writing courses help monetize writing—and fund writers as professionals—Engdahl worries that the courses are removing writers from the real world. Engdahl finds fault with literary criticism, too:

“We talk in the same way about everything which is published, and literary criticism is poorer for it,” he said.

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The End of Literature

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The digital age threatens works of serious literary merit, warns British novelist Will Self:

Back when I began publishing novels, not only did the reviews in the quality press mean something – in terms of sales, yes, but also as a genuine assay of literary worth – but as a writer, you knew that there was a community of readers who paid attention to them.

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Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Manuscript

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left an original manuscript of a Sherlock Holmes story to his daughter, who in turn left it to the Nation of Scotland. Then the manuscript sat in a bank vault. Conan Doyle studied medicine in Edinburgh and wanted to leave part of his legacy there, but no museum was specified, leaving the manuscript’s final destination in limbo while potential homes vied for it.

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Saving William Blake’s House

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William Blake lived in a cottage in West Sussex for three years beginning in 1800. Now the cottage is up for sale and the Blake Society wants to save the house for historic purposes. They negotiated a discounted price with the owners and are hoping to crowdsource the £520,000 necessary to buy the property and turn it into a museum, reports the Guardian.

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Million Word Novel

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Author Alan Moore, best known for graphic novels like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta, has just finished the first draft of his second novel, Jerusalem, a manuscript with a million words. The Guardian reports that Moore’s latest work beats out classic long reads like Samuel Richardson’s 970,000 word Clarissa or Tolstoy’s 560,000 word War and Peace.

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Are YA Dystopian Novels Breeding Conservatives?

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The Harry Potter series might have been helping make young kids more open and accepting of diversity, but a new crop of young adult novels might be push kids in the opposite direction of the political spectrum. Heroines like Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior aren’t just strong women–they’re exceptionally special people oppressed by nanny states politics, claims Ewan Morrison, writing over at The Guardian, who suggests that instead of encouraging young people to question authority, these young adult dystopias are simply reinforcing technocratic libertarianism ideals:

What marks these dystopias out from previous ones is that, almost without exception, the bad guys are not the corporations but the state and those well-meaning liberal leftists who want to make the world a better place.

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